A recent family photo that our friend Paul took. It is at our favorite mountain place called Mon Jam. If you come visit, we will take you there:)
The days have flown by since our last update. We had a great Christmas break, thoroughly enjoying the time away together with just our family. January started back with school and routine. Apart from teaching and working in schools we have other regular weekly activities. Every Tuesday is date night for Tracy and I. Joy and Get take care of the kids for us, with help from Samara. Wednesdays are our home group, Friday game night, Saturdays have various activities and Sundays are Farm Church with Pat. The routine keeps us busy with a lot of meaningful opportunity to invest in people.
As mentioned in the last update, Tracy will stop teaching at Good Kids Preschool this month. It is a bit of a sad departure, but we are confident that this is the best thing for her to do in this time. I has been a great 3 years of having impact in the community. These days it is hard for us to go out without running into one of the students from her school. Iris will continue to be a student at Good Kids when the new school year starts in May. Tracy will be taking some time to reflect, recharge and get vision for what God has for her.
Life working at the University has been very good. This term saw some new opportunities. I started collaborating with a professor who mentors and helps refugee students from Burma get scholarships and succeed at school. I have been able to start working closely with a number of these students. In addition, I started a project taking some of these students to a rural elementary school in Pat's village. There we get to provide fun learning activities for the kids. Many of the university students that are part of the team have a dream of developing what they call “mobile educational units” for serving villages in Burma. They wanted to be a part of my project to develop their skills. One of the coolest things that has happened is that one of the teachers at the school was so impacted by Pat's teams and our students that it opened her heart and she recently decided trust in Jesus and also came to Farm Church with her husband. I have been so encouraged being able to collaborate cross culturally with so many different people to bring the love of God and quality education to many children. Some of you know that before we came to Thailand, we really wanted to go to Burma. Now we are able to serve Burma and Thailand at the same time!
As we mentioned last letter, Joy graduates this year. Her ceremony was this past week. Tracy posted about it on her facebook, and I will quote it here. So many emotions, so many feelings I have for Joy. We have been through so much together in the last 4 years. Our relationship is not easy to define. But I don't need a definition in order to love her, and to be loved by her. I am so grateful that Joy came into my life. She taught me patience, how to over come fears, and mostly how to get out of my comfort. Living with me & my family has not always been easy for Joy or perfect. But something beautiful happens in community. Amongst the pain, annoyance, disappointment, and frustrations. Hope arrises in it all. It says, “I've got you. You belong.” I love you Joy. You belong.
Also, Tracy and Joy got to serve Burma in another way. They just got back from trip to Burma to bring food relief to people who have had to flee their villages because of ongoing conflict. They joined along with a friend of ours to drive to the boarder and take the supplies across the river by boat. It was a great time to serve and bond together in a shared experience.
We of course don't want to forget Get, Geshem and Iris. They are all looking forward to the summer break. Get will go to work at a hair saloon as well as go back to the mountain for a few weeks. She will be in grade 12 next year, and we get to go through the whole process of university applications and testing again. We are proud of both of them!
Geshem recently took an interest basketball and continues to do well in school. He begins grade 4 in May, which make him one of the “older” students, a right of passage in Thailand. He recently did a zipline and drove Hmong downhill carts by himself…his thirst for adventure is growing:)
Iris is a happy, energetic, creative girl. She turns 4 in April. She loves her mommy, her teachers and her friends. She is also starting to be more willing to speak Thai. We are proud of all of them.
We also had a few other special activities we got to do. Every 3 months there is an early release spiritual retreat for the guys who are coming out of the juvenial detention center where Pat teaches. Each time there is a retreat, we host the group at our house to have a huge meal together and to pray for the guys. This last January we moved the venue to the Farm so that we could bake pizza for them in the oven. It is always a great time.
We also joined with a group of university students to build a fire break in the mountains in our area to help stop the forest fires which cause a lot of smog this time of year. We enjoyed getting to know the student more. The kids loved running around in the forest too.
Thanks for taking the time to read and stay connected.
We love you. Below I have put bullet points for the prayer requests.
Pray for us to be a bright light in our community
Pray that Joy will make good plans for the future and receive a scholarship
Pray for Get to continue to shine at her school and to have grace in the competitive program.
Pray for Geshem and Iris to continue to be a good example and to be secure in their identity.
Pray that Tracy will be refresh and refilled in her transition from GKP
Pray that Father will use Caleb on campus for His purposes.
Pray that we will be used to impact our community and the families we are involved with.
Pray for our the work at Pat's farm and with the kids in the village. Pray that we can effectively encourage an empower them.
Pray for Caleb to balance the new demands of the Masters degree program with all of the other demands of life.
Pray for our decision making and planning for the future.